End of NetWare? Film at 11

Chris Stone got slitzed last week, really slitzed. It was all to do with former Novell marketing vice president John Slitz (now CEO of Systems Research and Development), and what happened to him when he spoke off-handedly to an Australian journalist.

Chris Stone got slitzed last week, really slitzed. No, it has nothing to do with "The beer that made Milwaukee famous". Rather, it refers to former Novell marketing vice president John Slitz (now CEO of Systems Research and Development), and what happened to him when he spoke off-handedly to an Australian journalist.

In discussing the future of NetWare at the launch of NetWare 5.0 in the fall of 1998, Slitz referred to the future "modular" nature of the network operating system. (We are seeing that come to fruition with NetWare 6.5, by the way.) Slitz swore his words were turned around so that it looked like he was predicting the demise of NetWare entirely. At any rate, Slitz was soon the ex-vice president of marketing.

Last week, the UK publication IT Week published an interview with Novell honcho Chris Stone, who is quoted as saying, in part:

"Chris Stone ... said the company would increasingly focus on directories. 'There are two main platforms that will exist in five years' time: Microsoft and Linux,' Stone said. 'There is a perception that [NetWare] is a legacy environment. Do [we] throw money and technology into that environment, or do [we] take the value and put it into others?'"

This was taken to mean that Stone was predicting the demise of NetWare. In fact, according to Stone, he didn't mention NetWare at all. Instead, he was talking about the spread of eDirectory as a cross-platform directory solution and which platforms would be the predominant ones for that technology.

What's interesting, is that the article doesn't say "NetWare," it says "[NetWare]". That's an editorial device, which means that the person being quoted didn't actually use that word, but did use a reference to it. For example, if I say, "I used to drive a Ford, but now I drive a Chevy. The Ford got great gas mileage, but was underpowered. My current car has lots of features I really like and also gets decent gas mileage." The story could condense that to "Kearns said, '[Chevrolet] gets decent gas mileage.'" Note that I never used the word "Chevrolet" and only alluded to the perceived fact that a Chevrolet gets adequate gas mileage, although probably not as good as the Ford. Nevertheless, the reporter has turned my words into an endorsement of the Chevy's gas mileage! So we can be sure that Stone didn't actually use the word "NetWare."

It may well be that the reporters writing the story didn't try to sandbag Stone, it could have been the editor who was "shaping" the story for better play (all writers, whether journalists, editorialists or novelists, have a running feud with editors). But someone took a not very newsworthy story on the spread of directory technology and tried to turn it into a sensational "end of NetWare" scoop. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last. It may also have been an honest mistake (as was the Slitz incident) caused by "translation" from American to British or American to Aussie. But if that's the case, all Novell execs might need to take a crash course in language skills before venturing into Canada.

Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Silicon Valley. Send letters for publication in Computerworld to Computerworld Letters.

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